Fortnightly variations in the flow velocity of Rutford Ice Stream, West Antarctica

Gudmundsson, G. Hilmar. 2006 Fortnightly variations in the flow velocity of Rutford Ice Stream, West Antarctica. Nature, 444 (7122). 1063-1064.

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Most of the ice lost from the Antarctic ice sheet passes through a few fast-flowing and highly dynamic ice streams(1). Quantifying temporal variations in flow in these ice streams, and understanding their causes, is a prerequisite for estimating the potential contribution of the Antarctic ice sheet to global sea-level change(2,3). Here I show that surface velocities on a major West Antarctic Ice Stream, Rutford Ice Stream, vary periodically by about 20 per cent every two weeks as a result of tidal forcing. Tidally induced motion on ice streams has previously been thought to be limited to diurnal or even shorter-term variations(4-9). The existence of strong fortnightly variations in flow demonstrates the potential pitfalls of using repeated velocity measurements over intervals of days to infer long-term change.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: BAS Programmes > Global Science in the Antarctic Context (2005-2009) > Glacial Retreat in Antarctica and Deglaciation of the Earth System
ISSN: 0028-0836
NORA Subject Terms: Glaciology
Date made live: 09 May 2012 10:49 +0 (UTC)

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